Final Fantasy Explorers (Nintendo 3DS) Second Opinion Review

By Drew Hurley 16.11.2016

Review for Final Fantasy Explorers on Nintendo 3DS

Final Fantasy Explorers was originally released in Japan in 2014, but only reached Western shores this year in January. Explorers capitalised on fan nostalgia to sell the game since the core gameplay was so far removed from the norm, instead relying on filling it with character cameos from across the series; Cloud and Yuna, Cecil and Lightning - eleven prominent characters, along with iconic enemies and Eidolons from Final Fantasy history. Is nostalgia all the game has to offer, though, or is there more here?

Final Fantasy Explorers is filled with plenty of familiar Final Fantasy elements: the series' signature Crystals are centre for what passes as a story, for instance. There are also plenty of familiar enemies, like Bombs and Chocobo, ranging across the zones, plus huge Eidolon boss fights, along with the old-school Job system, but this is definitely a break from the classic Final Fantasy formula. While it has a story, much like the Monster Hunter franchise it's just tacked on. Capcom's venerable series is going to be a regular comparison… Much like how Omega Force has produced Musou titles for plenty of different franchises now, this feels like a Final Fantasy themed Hunter title, with every positive and negative aspect of those games brought right along for the ride.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Explorers on Nintendo 3DS

The biggest negative is definitely the repetition, a repetition that doesn't reward in the usual Final Fantasy way. Unlike most Final Fantasy titles, Explorers totally breaks away from the usual system of battling monsters to gain XP and levelling up. Instead, it works on a system of taking on missions and then heading out into the world to kill targets for rewards, again… and again… and again. These rewards, along with items found in the field, are used to craft equipment that becomes the focus of the adventure; there is even gear and outfits from famous characters across the series; for example, taking on a mission to dispatch Shiva rewards a Jenova Cell. Complete this quest 10 times and those Jenova Cells can be traded in at the Forge in town to craft a set of Sephiroth's attire.

From the start to the final missions and beyond, everything plays the same: pick up a mission and some sub-missions, head out into the world and run through a bunch of zones to get to the target area, kill what's there, and then warp back to town. Getting to the target gets old very quickly, and since most missions have a time limit, it means running through the same oft-revisited zones over and over.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Explorers on Nintendo 3DS

The combat mechanics are simple but effective. There are a massive 21 jobs, including plenty of familiar favourites, each with a considerable amount of abilities to equip. There is also a limit break type system called a Surge that appears after enough abilities have been used in combat. This gives a random boon for a short period. Using abilities while under the effect of these Surges grants the ability to customise moves; for example, gaining "Fire Affinity" as a Monk and using the patented hand-to-hand techniques so that, over time, they may gain the Fire effect, making for flaming punch special moves. This is one example, but there is a huge amount of abilities and modifiers for custom abilities. Later on, these Surges can be used to capture Eidolons and turn them into Magicite, which can be equipped and used to transform into iconic Final Fantasy characters or the captured Eidolons to deal massive damage.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Explorers on Nintendo 3DS

Again, like Monster Hunter, Explorers was made to be played in co-operative mode, with up to four players, with some of the jobs - like Bard and Time Mage - clearly based around support style roles. For those that prefer to play solo, there is a system of recruiting monsters to use in the place of others. There is a stack of different monsters to recruit, each with their own moves and abilities that can round out the party. Some can heal and protect, while others can de-buff enemies or just deal damage.

The problem with being able to bring a party of four to the fight is that there is really nothing in the game that feels like it requires it. Most regular enemies are quickly dispatched with little effort and even the major battles against Eidolons rarely contain much of a risk. There are some ways to increase the difficulty somewhat, such as the enemies scaling up with more players, and there is a system of adding modifiers to missions, like tougher enemies or restrictions on moves, and so on, but none of it amounts to a decent challenge.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Explorers on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Although initially quite enjoyable and filled with aspects that fans of the series will enjoy, the repetitive nature of the game is an absolute killer. The fan service is enough to get players interested, but not enough to keep them satisfied. For those in the audience that just happen to be fans of both Final Fantasy and Monster Hunter, this may be enjoyable in the short term, but, ultimately, Final Fantasy Explorers feels like somewhat of a failed experiment.

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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